Can These Bones Live?

A Catholic Baptist Engagement with Ecclesiology, Hermeneutics, and Social Theory

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"A fine compendium of ecclesial wisdom for making Christian witness to the principalities and powers of our age. With massive learning, both theological and biblical, Harvey offers us a real masterwork, a splendid demonstration of theological thinking at its best."--Ralph C. Wood, Baylor University
Barry Harvey sees in the valley of dry bones of Ezekiel 37 as a metaphor for the state of the church today: fragmented and scattered--dismembered--in its life and witness. Harvey critiques the church in its present state, and traces the developments that led it here. Yet just as there was hope for the people of Israel, there is hope for the church, that it can be re-membered into the earthly-historical form of the crucified and risen Christ that it is intended to be. For this to happen, the church must recover and reinvigorate core ecclesial practices. These include the spiritual interpretation of scripture, the development of sound doctrine, the centrality of baptism and the Eucharist, practices of spiritual discipline, and cultivation of the church as the social body of Christ.

Here is rich and thoughtful ecclesial and social criticism, written from a Baptist heritage yet decisively informed by the Catholic tradition. Can These Bones Live? will vitally contribute to the recently revived discussion of theological politics, and is sure to spark lively discussion in both the church and the academy. It will be of use in courses in theology, ecclesiology, missiology, social ethics, and hermeneutics.


"Barry Harvey has written a small Summa for our time, a fine compendium of ecclesial wisdom for making Christian witness to the principalities and powers of our age. With massive learning, both theological and biblical, he offers us a real masterwork, a splendid demonstration of theological thinking at its best, fully mature and fully engaged with church and world alike."--Ralph C. Wood, Baylor University

"Barry Harvey contends that Free churches in North America, and throughout the world, do not merely exist in a state of division. Like the dry bones of Ezekiel's vision, they lie scattered and lifeless. But this book is not merely an exercise in social criticism. It constructively shows how to understand what it might mean for Christ's dismembered body to be re-membered. Harvey's aim is to enable readers to imagine such a future so that they may desire it. If he is successful, there is yet hope for renewal."--Curtis W. Freeman, Duke University Divinity School

"In this masterful account of the contemporary church, Barry Harvey demonstrates the frightening relevance of God's question of Ezekiel to our day. His scholarship is profound, although he displays it gracefully, and his insights penetrating. While accurately describing the political, social, and economic forces that have severed the sinews of Christ's body, this marvelous work also represents a fresh breath of the Spirit, offering a rich account of the ecclesial practices that may yet clothe us with new life."--Elizabeth Newman, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond

"This book serves up impressive scholarly breadth, grounded in many streams of the Christian tradition and argued in ways that remind all branches of the church of their best insights, instincts, and practices. Engaging social theory and politics, economic analysis and the humanities, Harvey offers an exciting and pastorally relevant ecclesiology grounded in scripture, tradition, and critical thinking. This book is valuable for students, scholars, clergy, and lay people interested in how we ended up in our current situation in matters of church, politics, and culture."--Michael L. Budde, DePaul University

The Author

  1. Barry Harvey

    Barry Harvey

    Barry Harvey (PhD, Duke University) is professor of theology in the Honors College at Baylor University, author of Another City: An Ecclesiological Primer for a Post-Christian World, and coauthor of StormFront: The Good News of God. He lives in...

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"Harvey's cultural critique is penetrating and his suggestions for moving forward are insightful and practical. Enriched by the thought of several key ecclesial and cultural thinkers . . . Harvey produces a well-informed and thought-provoking diagnosis of where the Western church stands today. Moreover, he provides a helpful contribution to the ongoing discussion of what it means for the church to be the church in our contemporary, post-Christendom context. I commend this book to all thoughtful Christians that are interested in the intersection of church and culture."--Patrick S. Franklin, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith

"Shaped by Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox theology--with the footnotes witnessing an impressive erudition--Harvey's ecclesiology recovers earlier Baptist emphases (notably that of the Church as the alternative polis) while being deeply shaped by Catholic and Orthodox sacramentalism. . . . The greatest strength of Harvey's book is its overt sacramental ontology, along with its recovery of mystery as central to the ecclesial discipline of theology."--Hans Boersma, Religious Studies Review

"Can These Bones Live? is a question . . . for all followers of Christ throughout the world. Barry Harvey . . . gives us much to ponder including points for debate or disagreement. Profound, provocative, not to be read in haste, this book will be of special interest to students of Christian social theory and modern culture. An essential volume for theological libraries."--Roger E. Hedlund, Dharma Deepika

"There has not been a more exciting book written in philosophical theology in recent memory than Barry Harvey's Can These Bones Live? . . . Harvey brilliantly interweaves biblical narratives, philosophical arguments, and theological doctrines in ways that do not take away from any of the three. . . . While the first part of Harvey's book can be described as diagnosing our contemporary ecclesial situation, the second part of the book offers the needed remedies for the diagnosis."--Jacob Goodson, Review and Expositor